Shibis District, Mogadishu, Somalia –
A Surf Toyota vehicle exploded in Mogadishu’s Shibis District this morning, causing a blast that resonated even in neighbouring districts. No fatalities were reported, but the car was completely destroyed. A young boy washing nearby vehicles sustained injuries.
The explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in the vehicle parked at the Behani intersection in front of the Flex Fitness Center and Maandeeq Daafi & Pizza café.
The vehicle’s owner remains unidentified, but our sources suggest he was involved in currency exchange, particularly 1XBet. At the time of the explosion, he was reportedly at the gym.
As the targeted individual was a businessman rather than a government worker, the IED was likely placed by al-Shabaab militants, who might have intended to send a warning message to the individual. Al-Shabaab is infamous for extorting taxes from businesspeople. When the victim refuses or fails to pay, blowing up their car is al-Shabaab’s heinous way of pressuring them.
“Zakawaat” taxes by al-Shabaab
According to Hiraal Institute’s report published in July 2018 on the al-Shabaab finance system, the militant group maintains a list of business owners and an estimate of their worth. At the end of the year, all businesses are required to pay the annual Zakah to al-Shabaab’s Finance Office in cash.
This practice is also implemented in territories without al-Shabaab’s direct presence. For example, in Mogadishu’s Bakara Market, business owners are summoned by al-Shabaab’s finance officials to come to areas controlled by the group and pay the Zakah there in cash.
In Islamic law, Zakah (also zakat) is a payment made annually on certain kinds of property and used for charitable and religious purposes. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It should be noted, however, that al-Shabaab’s interpretation of Zakah (regarding both collection and use) has little to do with the original purpose of this form of almsgiving.